Monica O'Meara - Unfurling
Visit Monica's exhibition in our gallery space Monday to Friday 2:00 - 5:30pm (May - June)
Monica O’ Meara was raised in the Midlands in Ireland. Moving to Dublin she embraced the artistic and cultural opportunities city life presented, regularly undertaking art and craft hobby courses throughout her working life. Having returned to live in the Midlands the opportunity arose to study art and design on a full-time basis. Monica completed Level 5 & Level 6 in Abbeyleix College of Further Education and the Honours BA in Ceramic Design in Limierick School of Art and Design.
Nature and landscape have always been her primary source of inspiration and her interests in local and international travel and hillwalking have provided a vast wealth of source material with which to work. Having worked across various media, her practice now concentrates on ceramics. This close affinity with geology and the landscape is often translated through abstracted colours witnessed on her walks and travels. With a keen interest in the scientific elements of her practice, Monica works in a conceptual and experimental manner, allowing both materials and firing their own voice in the process. Glazes become part of the fabric of the material she creates rather than surface decoration. The result of this interplay is the creation of unrepeatable truly unique abstract sculptural pieces.
Monica is a multi-award-winning graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design whose work is held in both public and private collections, including Limerick School of Art and Design, Limerick Institute of Technology, BD Research Centre Ireland and Ingenium Training and Consulting.
‘An architect should live as little in cities as a painter. Send him to our hills, and let
him study there what nature understands by a buttress, and what by a dome.’
Born of a sense of awe at their creation and evolution, I feel deeply connected to untamed landscapes - the physical marks, exposed rocks, cracks and folds, contrasting colours and textures that evidence their creation.
My work explores geology through the lens of time, or time through the lens of geology. It investigates the notion of capturing and accelerating unfathomable time through ceramic processes. In this approach I use layers on a micro level to convey and emphasise what is evident in the natural world on a macro level. I use materials directly relating to geology and ceramic construction methods which echo the brute natural forces intrinsic to the formation of geological strata and their subsequent breakdown and exposure through erosion – crushing, crashing, scorching, rupturing and shattering.
I work intuitively allowing the materials to have their own expressive voice. The kiln simulates earth’s furnace, interacting intense heat with materials. My work embraces this inherent unpredictability, becoming a vignette of momentous geological events, both emulating and celebrating nature as architect.
‘Science is determining relationships between variables, interpreting data and looking for patterns. When we find the patterns, we will then create a movement.’ Dr. Niamh Shaw
Inspired by the astronomical heritage and contemporary astrophysical research in Birr, science communicator and creative, Dr. Niamh Shaw will collaborate with Birr Theatre & Arts Centre & Birr Tidy Towns and local cross stitchers to map and observe Birr Skies with its celestial objects such as stars, planets, comets, meteors and other objects beyond our naked eye.
This will be done through a programme of online workshops, night sky observations, with guest speakers incl. Dr Áine Flood, I-LOFAR, an initiative led by Trinity College Dublin, and site visits to Birr Castle Demesne over the coming months.
Working with the data of the past and present, of astrophysical objects discovered and observed through the Great Telescope, as well as data from I-LOFAR, Niamh and her collaborators will map out historical and contemporary astronomical features and their coordinates.
Using these coordinates, a suite of physical movements will be choreographed for an outdoor performance. The performance will also be filmed and available as a stand-alone film work.
This initiative is in collaboration with Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, Birr Tidy Towns, Birr Castle Demesne and I-LOFAR, an initiative led by Trinity College Dublin, and supported by the Creative Ireland Programme (2017 -2022) in partnership with Offaly County Council.
Exploring Birr Skies | Contemporary & Heritage Astronomy
Dr Niamh Shaw - Walking Slowly Towards Space (Credit Ros Kavanagh 2018)